Hello 2017!

Merry Christmas from Lena (5), Gil (3), and Forest (7 months)! This photo was on the front of our Christmas card this year. Our Christmas card photo this year: Lena (5), Gil (3), and Forest (7 months).

Hello, old blog. I think of you often, mostly because putting words and photos into this space is a way to record both the images and the emotions of this stage of life, marriage, and motherhood. I miss doing this, and reading my readers’ stories too, and sharing in this small community online.

And so, at least for the month of January, one of my goals is to write four blog posts. I am already over a week into this month and haven’t been able to write until now, so we’ll see if this happens!

I thought a fun thing to do would be to capture the last few weeks in a bunch of photos. A lot of my favorite photos are on Instagram, but here are some that didn’t make the cut for whatever reason, yet still tell our story.

becca-garber-hello-2017-1 In December right before Christmas, we went on a five-day vacation to Cambria on the central California coast with my mom, dad, sister Emily, brother Eric, and his girlfriend Rebecca. We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb on Stepladder Ranch, and we spent hours hiking in the lush green hills around the ranch.

img_7685 Sunrise through the lavender outside our bedroom window.

becca-garber-hello-2017-2 We went on a tour of Stepladder Creamery, a goat dairy on the ranch. It was so green; all the shades of green and red and blue were like technicolor. The cheese was great too!

becca-garber-hello-2017-3 Forest was everyone’s favorite to snuggle.

img_7736 Sunset at Elephant Seal Beach, where we saw male elephant seals fighting and tiny newborn baby seals nursing. Elliott and I haven’t been back here since our honeymoon almost seven years ago, so it was crazy to stand there watching the same amazing sight… but with our three children.

becca-garber-hello-2017-4 Mornings at the ranch house.

becca-garber-hello-2017-5 My mom bought fun spa items for us girls to enjoy while we were there, and Lena had so much fun pampering all of us. I want to repeat this experience! Turns out she gives a facial (the five-year-old version) just as well as she climbs trees.

becca-garber-hello-2017-6 Frolicking in the hills!

img_7755 We visited Hearst Castle while we were staying just a few miles away, and it was opulent and magnificent. This is the indoor pool. Can you imagine hanging out here with movie stars in the 1930s and ’40s?

becca-garber-hello-2017-7 The long drive home. I hate LA traffic.

img_7783 Christmas Eve breakfast! Elliott’s favorite cinnamon rolls were a must.

becca-garber-hello-2017-8 My little family ready to head out to the Christmas Eve service at church, and our Christmas Day dinner the next day.

img_7814 The whole crew enjoying Christmas morning breakfast. We are so glad you all came!

img_7865 My three precious children on Christmas morning. Forest’s first! My heart was so full of thankfulness that day.

img_7871 Between travel to St Louis, Virginia, and Cambria in December, Forest’s sleep schedule was a total wreck and he was so exhausted by the time Christmas was over. We moved him up to his own bedroom (and out of our closet!) right after my family departed. We also moved him out of the little Arm’s Reach co-sleeper bed he’d slept in his whole life, and now he is in a real “big boy” crib. He’s already sleeping so much better. Not sleeping through the night, though I think he could. I know… babies and parents and sleep… the endless drama…

img_7872 Elliott’s parents got into town for a week-long visit the same day my family left, and we spent a quiet day at home before going to the San Diego Holiday Bowl parade the next day. The kids loved all the balloon floats and bands!

becca-garber-hello-2017-9 We celebrated a second Christmas with Elliott’s parents, this time just stockings. The kids especially enjoyed the packs of gum I put in there, and the little balloon pump and long tube balloons that we made into shapes. So entertaining!

img_7899 We visited Torrey Pines State Reserve one day, and a cockatoo walked right up with his owner and made himself at home! He untied our shoe laces, ate our carrots, and then meandered on his happy way.

img_7920 Elliott’s sister gave the kids cloth bags and fabric paint for Christmas, and they had so much fun decorating them. I love this messy, realistic scene that is reminiscent of many many mornings in our home.

becca-garber-hello-2017-10 At the recommendation of multiple friends, I got my first Erin Condren planner this year. Already I love having a paper planner so much. I feel like I have a clear grasp of what this week holds, and what I need to get done, like send birthday cards, schedule babysitters, accomplish monthly goals… things that often got pushed to the last minute or just forgotten. When my family relies on me to be organized as well as provide for them in myriad ways, I don’t want to waste my time being disorganized, last-minute, or forgetful. This is my realization and aspiration, anyway. More about goals in an upcoming post!

becca-garber-hello-2017-11 My baby’s first time in the shopping cart seat, and one of my favorite parts of the day: bathing Forest, wrapping him up in his hooded towel, dressing him in cozy pajamas, snuggling up to nurse him, and then laying his sleepy body down in his crib. I love having a baby so so so much, even with the challenges.

img_8003 I’ve been selling and giving away a lot of things this month (spring cleaning!), and I loved this photo of a hand bell set I was ready to part with. Sadly, my kids were always more interested in ringing them loudly enough to wake up the neighbors than playing “Jingle Bells.”

becca-garber-hello-2017-12 Photos of me and my best friend before a hot date to an Italian restaurant!

img_8127 For my job at a local paper, I reviewed Buona Forchetta, a popular Italian restaurant in San Diego, and then interviewed the owner. Everyone loved the article, and I loved the entire experience from start to finish! Here’s the article if you’d like to read it.

becca-garber-hello-2017-13 Our beloved baby. On the left, he was eating some crackers (love Mum-Mums!) at the library, and on the right he was hanging out with me, Elliott, and our dog on a date while Elliott’s parents took the older two kids to La Jolla Cove.

becca-garber-hello-2017-14 More of my baby. I might be obsessed a little. Also he loves his bath each night so much!

img_8139 Photo of Bluewater Boathouse (another restaurant I review each quarter for the newspaper) and Glorietta Bay at sunrise, taken on a run with friends. We live in such a breathtakingly beautiful place!

becca-garber-hello-2017-15 Lena showed Forest how to set up her new gears toy, and Gil snapped this random photo of me one night when I was giving Forest a bath.

img_8165 Last week we rode the ferry from Coronado to downtown San Diego (I love this photo from the ride) to get Lena a new passport and apply for Forest’s first. We’d like to do some international travel this spring, but we’re still not sure where.

becca-garber-hello-2017-16 Playing on the amazing playground after our passport appointments. Forest is such a serious swinger, and Lena is such a daredevil one!

img_8185 And finally, here is a photo of my precious Gil, because I don’t take enough of this sweet, goofy boy. He wasn’t feeling great here (the kids have been suffering from stomach bugs this past week), but he came along so cheerfully on this expedition on the ferry and smiled so sweetly here.

And that’s all for now! A busy season, but one I don’t ever want to forget. If only that were possible… at least for all the best memories!

xo

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3 :: in Coronado, family, Forest, Gil, holidays, home sweet home, Lena, life lately, San Diego

Baby Wish List of My Dreams

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Full disclosure: this is a sponsored post. :)

‘Tis the season for having babies among my friends, I tell ya. One friend had a baby on Saturday, another is due next week, and still another is due in three more weeks! These are such happy days.

I recently discovered a website called Baby Cubby which has so many beautiful baby and children’s things assembled all in one place. Baby Cubby price-matches with Amazon and other stores (and has free shipping for orders over $50), but it also carries many boutique brands that Amazon does not, such as Tea Collection clothing and Little Unicorn products. They don’t carry everything, though, and that is because they have done a lot of research about what are the best/safest products and try to only carry those. Their desire is to be a resource for parents, not just another baby store.

Baby Cubby asked me to write about some of my favorite products on their website, and I had fun browsing and dreaming of what I would buy if money were no object. No, they aren’t going to give me all of them now — I wish! But for those of you who are in a baby registry mindset, here are a few ideas, some of which I can personally vouch for after using them myself for Forest.

——–

Mamaroo — I know this baby item seems hyped up, and some reviews I read online said it didn’t work for their little one. That has not been our experience, however. Forest has relaxed happily in it since we first brought him home from the hospital, and I love having a safe place to set him down. I haven’t let him lie on the floor or anywhere where our dog could get to him (she’s a sweetie but we are super safety conscious), and so the Mamaroo has been a safe spot in our main living space.

Kickee Pants onesies — So soft and cozy! These are expensive, though, so might be nice to buy in larger sizes after your baby isn’t growing out of things after only a few uses.

Tegu magnetic blocks — We have a little Tegu car made of blocks, and those magnetic wooden blocks are incredible! This little set would be great for keeping a little one occupied on a plane or in a car, and they don’t make a mess and they do stick together.

Plan Toys xylophone — We love Plan Toys products in this house, both for their quality and for the ethics of the company. And what a gorgeous, happy instrument for a little child!

Dock-a-Tot — We’ve co-slept a little bit with all our babies, and even though we like some aspects of it, overall we find it very stressful to have a tiny baby in bed with us. Even if we’re sleeping with just a sheet, no blankets — what if something happened and we were sleeping too deeply to realize? Dock-a-Tot is a way to keep your baby next to you but surrounded by a secure buffer to keep you from rolling onto him or her. Brilliant. Wish I’d thought of it, haha.

Little Unicorn crib sheet — I love my Little Unicorn swaddle blankets! They offer the same prints in their crib sheets, which are just darling. I’d love to get this “Forest Friends” print in a crib sheet for my Forest when he moves from his mini co-sleeper bed into a real crib. Which, actually, will be soon, as he is about to outgrow that little cot. Oh babies, why do you grow so fast?

World Map Rug — Give your child the world! What a soft and wonderful place for your children to build, read, and play in their room. And the rug is washable, too.

Little Unicorn swaddle blankets — Again, I love these. Aren’t those fruit prints darling? They are made out of the same muslin material that has become so popular with Aden + Anais, but with even more creative and beautiful prints.

Briar Handmade Bonnet — I’d love to get Forest one of these for the cooler months! What a darling little bonnet that even a boy can wear.

Numnum Dips — Sadly, Forest will soon be ready to graduate to pureed foods, and a whole new life stage will begin. I love the milk-only stage; so much easier and much less mess! These clever spoons catch purees and other soft foods in their grooves, though, making it easier for the baby to feed him or herself. I would love to try them when that day comes… too soon.

——–

And there you have my dream baby registry! It’s so much fun to see the beautiful and creative products that are out there for children these days, and maybe to enjoy some of them ourselves. Do you have any favorites that I left out?

1 :: in gift guide, wishlist

On Becca’s Bookshelf // January & February 2016 Edition

Recently Updated8

Here is another series of book reviews, although I am falling farther and farther behind in their timeliness! It’s fascinating to come back to these books months later and remember what stuck with me and affected me.

*****

ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll — Stranger than I thought it would be! Still, I appreciated finally reading the book behind so much art, culture, and fantasy. I read this aloud to four-year-old Lena, and I am sure she didn’t retain much of it, so I think we’ll have to read it again in a couple of years. P.S. This is the beautiful edition that we read! Love the illustrations. — 3 stars

*****

BABY CATCHER: CHRONICLES OF A MODERN MIDWIFE by Peggy Vincent — The highly readable, endlessly entertaining account of a midwife who was practicing during the “wild west” of midwifery before a lot of our modern laws came into effect. Made me laugh out loud as well as cry. For those who love birth stories, or even just want to see inside the mind of the assistants/nurses/doctors at childbirth, this is a wonderful read. — 5 stars

*****

CLEANING HOUSE: A MOM’S TWELVE-MONTH EXPERIMENT TO RID HER HOME OF YOUTH ENTITLEMENT by Kay Wills Wyma Easy to read, kind of in the style of Jenn Hatmaker. The author has 4 entitled teens and preteens, so she establishes a year of chores, meal prep, handyman jobs, and other projects around their house and community to teach her kids to take responsibility and learn to be adults. It was inspiring… but harder to put into practice, I know, than to read about it while lying on the couch!  4 stars

*****

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot — Everyone loves this book and everyone has read this book, it seems, and I am finally catching up. I enjoyed it, but I guess I felt certain parts could have been explained better, and the book seemed to lose some momentum after the initial retelling of Henrietta’s life. Still, very entertaining and informative. — 4 stars

*****

SUMMERLAND by Elin Hilderbrand — So help me, I love this Nantucket dramas. It’s hard to find a better beach read than Elin’s books, although her characters’ depravity always surprises me. As it’s intended to, I suppose. —  4 stars

*****

FARMER BOY by Laura Ingalls Wilder — I read this one aloud to Lena as well, and she enjoyed it, although it is a little less exciting than some of the other books in the Little House series. As always, the author makes a period of American history come to life in brilliant color. — 5 stars

*****

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson — This one was a little strange. A young woman lives her life over and over and over again, making different choices each time. It is set in England during the start of WWII, and the author draws the character into many national and international historical events. I didn’t love it, but it does offer excellent writing and a fascinating premise. — 4 stars

*****

BOUNDARIES WITH KIDS by Henry Cloud and John Townsend Full of wisdom, but dense. Best slowly digested over time. The book left me grateful that I was raised with clear boundaries (I knew when to say yes and no, what was right and wrong, and felt in control of my life), and I am inspired to continue to pass on structure, expectations, and the peace that comes from them to my children. That’s the goal, anyway!  4 stars

*****

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr Finally, after everyone told me I should read it, I really did! And it WAS magnificent. However, the story was slow, a quiet unspooling of history, and didn’t grip me as much as I expected. It’s a book I’d like to return to down the road to read again and fully appreciate.  4 stars

*****

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree or disagree with any of my reviews? I’d love to know what you’re reading this summer!

2 :: in book reviews, good reads, On Becca’s Bookshelf

A Few of My Favorite Baby Things

Favorite Baby Things -- Forest Things have been too quiet around here! I had such grand aspirations to put together a post of photos about “our first month with Forest,” but now he’s 2.5 months old already. Time is flying!

I wrote an email to my dear friend Abi the other night after she asked if I had any registry advice for a third baby. Elliott saw me writing this loooong email and said, “You should share that on your blog!” I decided to take his advice, and I’m hoping this post will inspire me to put together some more photo updates on the blog, but I won’t cross my fingers…

So here are a few of my favorite baby things (notice I do not say “essentials” — because nothing really is). Some of them new items I’ve discovered this time around, but others are tried and true favorites that I’ve used with all three of my babies:

Rock n play — I borrowed one from a friend, actually, and it has been such a lifesaver! It’s basically a lightweight cradle with a vibrating feature, and it keeps the baby snug and cozy and slightly upright, which is great with reflux. I carry it around the house with me for Forest to rest in it or even nap near us. It also keeps him safe and out of the way of eager little hands, and away from our dog, too. Highly recommend it if you don’t have one!

Baby book — Confession: I never had a baby book for the other two kids! So this is a fresh start. It’s so darling!

Stroller bassinet — This is the bassinet feature for the City Select double stroller. This, I thought, would just be a luxury item, but I was tempted to get it since we walk somewhere every day in our small town. I finally bought one after I found someone selling a brand new one for half the original price on Craigslist. It’s ended up being such an amazing piece of equipment! If you walk a lot with your stroller (especially without driving somewhere first), it’s great to just move the baby from his/her crib to the stroller and back again. It’s also great for diaper changes.

Another nice feature: the bassinet detaches from the stroller so you can put the bassinet on a picnic blanket or beach blanket next to you, and it’s a safe, clean space for the baby protected from the sun or wind or cold.

It fits our lifestyle well, but if you mostly drive places, it’s probably not worth it, since you’d rather just put the whole car seat into the stroller with your sleeping baby and go on your way. Something to consider, though!

Skip Hop bag — My old one was in sad shape with ripped pockets, and it was so nice to get a new one. (It was a gift from my mom — thanks, Mom!) I looked at a lot of diaper bags, including this new (and budget-friendly) one from HipCub, the social media-popular Lily Jade bags, and the Kate Spade diaper bag. For the first two, I saw them in person and didn’t like how bulky they were, and also felt underwhelmed by the actual product after seeing all the online hype. For Kate Spade, I didn’t like the pockets and the lack of the cross-body strap.

So, ultimately, I chose this diaper bag. I do love the chic stripes, and the style of the bag works really well for a mom on the go. I love clipping it onto the handle of our stroller and walking with the the kids. All the pockets are so easily accessible, too, and it wipes clean and looks tidy and organized (even if it’s not, haha!).

Mamaroo — Again, this is something I thought would be a luxury item that has ended up being a lifesaver that we use daily. Forest has loved it from Day 1, and it’s the only piece of baby equipment I have in our main living space. Whenever he’s awake and we’re not holding him, he’s in the Mamaroo, gently bouncing or rocking away, and staring up in wonder these days at the dangling toys that he can’t reach or grab yet. I found one for $100 on Craigslist, and I hope to sell it for that much or almost that much, because that is a good deal for the most current model that ordinarily sells for $240 or so.

Little Unicorn Swaddle Blankets — Those are my favorite blankets, the ones I reach for over and over. I have the bison and the hedgehog prints, which are so cute for little boys! All the products by Little Unicorn are so beautiful, and their prices are comparable to or even better than Aden & Anais.SwaddleMe — These are the easiest, quickest swaddle blankets, and they almost always keep my babies contained. I have a few of them and always turn to them. I’ve tried a few other unique kinds (including the Halo swaddle and the Miracle Wrap), and these are my favorites.

Natural rubber pacifiers — I really love these. They are all one piece of rubber, so they don’t get gross fuzz or mold stuck in the cracks like the ones I’ve had in the past. They also are softer, and the natural rubber feels more like a nipple to me. Other similar brands are Ecopiggy and Hevea; they are a comparable price (ie. not cheap, but then you don’t lose them!) and the same style.

Multi-use canopy — This thing has gotten a lot of use already! It’s pretty cheap but I use it almost every day. It covers the car seat and stroller from sun (or strangers’ hands), and also can be used as a nursing cover. I don’t love it as a nursing cover, but it does cover my back if I have to lift my shirt way up to nurse. It’s nice to have as a back-up to my favorite Bebe Au Lait nursing cover.

Nail clippers — I needed a new pair because the ones I was given for Lena were rusty. I really like how this set feels in my hand, and it works very well. Forest’s nails grow so fast, and they get dirty quickly if I don’t keep them short, so I have used this little tool about once a week since he was born. A good investment, and aesthetically pleasing, too.

Solly Baby wrap — I totally forgot to include this in the collage, but it is definitely one of my favorite baby items. The light, stretchy material keeps both baby and parent cooler than the original Moby wrap or the Ergo with the infant insert. I love Solly’s colors and patterns, too! Forest sleeps so well in this wrap, and the material can double as a nursing cover or a blanket on the ground if need be.

Other things we love: California Baby shampoo and soap, these nursing pads, this glass baby bottle, Winter Water Factory rompers, these monthly milestone stickers, this nursing cover, and this amazing book.

And there you have it — way too long and too much detail, as usual. ;) Do you mamas have anything to add to this list? What baby items do you reach for over and over?

6 :: in Forest, gift guide, new baby series, wishlist

Our First Week with Forest Everett

Forest Everett birth announcement See Gil’s almost-identical blog birth announcement in this post!

Forest Everett is sleeping next to me now, making those little newborn squeaks and coos that I cannot get enough of. Thanks to the totally self-sacrificial love and care of my mom and Elliott, I have been given ample time to savor these newborn days, nap, relax, and enjoy. I’m grateful for such a peaceful start to life with Forest, especially after our start with Gil was so difficult.

Here are some of my favorite memories from this first week with our third baby!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-2 We brought Forest home on last Friday morning. I took a moment to to fix the drive in my memory, as I did with Lena and Gil.  All the purple-blossomed jacaranda trees were in bloom, and the water and sky were a brilliant blue as we crossed the bridge. Coronado looked like a green jewel surrounded by a sapphire sea. What a beautiful place to come home to, Forest!

IMG_1990 Leaving the hospital.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-1 The kids were so excited to see him home at last!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-3 Gil tried on the outfit he wore so often as a newborn. Doesn’t fit you anymore, big guy.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-4 Elliott and I took Forest to his first pediatrician appointment on Saturday morning, which he passed with flying colors. I have thanked God over and over this week for his health, ease with nursing, and so-far easy-going nature. I don’t take it for granted now–experience has humbled me!

On the right, my Forest next to a wonderful cookbook my friend loaned me.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-5 Left: All snuggled up while everyone else went to church. Forest and I listened to a sermon and soaked up the peace and quiet.

Right: FaceTime in two different rooms of the house never ceases to amaze my kids!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-6 I love every tiny little feature! The beautiful swaddle blanket is from Little Unicorn and the pacifier is from Natursutten, and so far I’m a big fan of both.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-7 On Sunday night, Elliott and I went out for a sushi date, something I have been dreaming of for a long time. We went out for sushi when Lena was a few days old, too, so I guess it’s kind of a tradition at this point. ;)

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-8 Afterwards we had more time before our older kids would be in bed (thanks, parents!), so we walked along the beach to the famous Hotel Del Coronado and enjoyed a drink at sunset. Little Forest woke up to nurse on the beach but otherwise lounged or slept quietly the whole time. Well done, little guy!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-9 becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-10 One evening my mom took the kids to the park, and so Forest and I sat outside for a long time, snuggling and nursing and playing with each other’s hands. I cannot get enough of this precious newborn stage!

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-11 I guess none of us can. :)

IMG_2333 becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-12 On the left, early morning jammie snuggles. On the right, Forest is wrapped in a beautiful blanket that a friend gave me for Lena over five years ago.

IMG_2117 How we roll around here, undies and all. So far Elliott and I are not regretting the purchase of the secondhand Mamaroo that Forest is in. It’s given us quiet evenings to ourselves when he tends to be a little fussy, and that alone has made it worth it so far. We suffered through many, many interrupted evenings with newborn to 3-month-old Gil.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-13 A familiar position for me on the left, as I tend to nurse my new babies lying down about 50% off the time. They can figure out the right latch without much interference from me, and they often fall asleep for hours after nursing like this. Other moms, do you have some unconventional adaptations like this?

On the right, my beautiful mom with her one-week-old grandson!

IMG_2384 Fresh produce that Elliott and Lena gathered from our EarthBox garden. Two kinds of tomatoes, peas, and lemon cucumbers. No strawberries because those get eaten right off the vine as soon as they’re ripe.

IMG_2422 A multi-tasking Grammie, who I think was talking to Elliott about summer vacation plans at the same time!

IMG_2377 Siena, our Maine Coon cat, joined our family right before Gil was born, and she’s been a nurturer ever since. She still runs over to Gil whenever he cries, or paws at him to help him stop.

becca-garber-coronado-forest-everett-first-week-2016-16 On the left, Forest is sporting a bracelet Lena made for him before he was born. On the right… back to diapers once again, even though we only put away Gil’s nighttime diapers last month. Sigh!

IMG_2457 Forest’s first bath on his one-week birthday, with plenty of assistance from his big sister.

IMG_0817 Little squish!

IMG_2466 How our evenings go these days: snuggles and conversations (and diaper changes).

Below are a series of photos I took on Forest’s one-week “birthday,” taken in chronological order. You’ll see how the order tells a story. ;)

IMG_2453 IMG_2450 IMG_2452 IMG_2454 IMG_2455 IMG_0772 IMG_2456 And that’s it! We love you, little Forest Everett, and you have brought so much joy to our home since you arrived. May it always be so. We are so glad God gave you to us to be part of our family!

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4 :: in family, Forest, home sweet home, life lately, motherhood, new baby series, thoughts

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